Rossellini's return to the cinema after twelve years working for television: a sympathetic, idealised - and almost universally reviled - portrait of Italy's postwar statesman Alcide De Gasperi (played by Vannucchi), the Christian Democrat leader who successfully kept the Communists out of the government, it is indeed hard to swallow. Its flaw is obvious: from 1945's chaos through anti-Communist coalitions, the historical realities are too close to bear De Gasperi's saint-like depiction. Its major saving irony is that it shows the conditions for historical choices in a much more illuminating light than its reactionary ticket would allow. So, although by no means the best, it's the most provocative of Rossellini's historical biographies, looking suspiciously like a triumph for the devil's advocate. DMacp.